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By Daniel Howes / The Detroit News


WARREN -- Forget Detroit's obsession with how GM's union workers may see their health care benefits cut -- and whether it might help the automaker for more than five minutes.

Ignore the carping about GM sticking it to its salaried workers, dumping contract workers and hammering suppliers -- as if all that ails GM can be fixed if they could just squeeze their people hard enough. GM's brass knows better.

Assuming GM is more than a benefit factory whose primary function is keeping employees and retirees in the manner to which they've become accustomed, the difference between hope and despair for a GM revival are the 20 new cars and trucks sitting under GM's design dome here in Warren.

If they miss and become the newest exhibits in the bloated gallery of GM products that didn't match their hype and can't outperform their aggressive rivals, it's all over.

Really, it is. The people who'll pay the price won't just be GM employees and retirees. It'll be communities like Detroit, Lansing and Pontiac, which depend on GM for jobs and tax revenue. It'll be homeowners across Michigan, whose housing values will get whacked. And it'll be industrial America.

Bottom line: There's much more riding on the next 30 months of GM product rollouts -- which GM is touting in a series of private previews -- than product czar Bob Lutz's legacy or Chairman Rick Wagoner's job.

The good news is there's not a pathetic Pontiac Aztek anywhere among the shiny models parked under the dome. The new full-size SUVs, set to arrive early next year, are sleeker and more fuel-efficient than their predecessors and, in late 2007, should be available with gas-electric hybrid powertrains.

The trio of mid-sized crossover vehicles from Buick, GMC and Saturn, code-named Lambda, will be late to the hot crossover game -- which means they must be better than their rivals. If the Buick version is any indication, skeptics (like me) are in for a big surprise because this is no flabby Rendezvous.

Same for the next-generation Saturns. There's the Teutonic Aura, a mid-size sedan that drew raves at the Detroit auto show, a Euro-style roadster named Sky, a crossover dubbed "Outlook" and a successor to the compact Ion sedan. Any resemblance to today's plasticky Saturns is, thankfully, coincidental.

The all-new Cadillac CTS is likely to give BMW and Mercedes-Benz engineers heart palpitations, mostly because the planned interior is (like most of the other interiors planned for the coming slug of GM models) a vast improvement over the current model.

Add that to the performance-and-quality cred amassed by the new Cadillacs, and you can't help but feel cautiously encouraged about GM's ability to pull out of its depressing nosedive.

Here's hoping. Talking mid-contract deals with the union may be necessary in tough times, but they're hardly sufficient. Only more desirable metal meets that requirement, and it can't come soon enough.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
First time I saw one, I asked myself "What were they thinking?" :eek:

Little blurb from some old, old news:
"Butt ugly." "I want one in yellow."
That's typical of the love-hate feelings for a vehicle General Motors hoped would be the hippest thing of 2001. They were close. It's the hippiest: Of all its debatable features, it's angular, bulging rear end is the most controversial.

GM chief designer Wayne Cherry admits he has never taken so much grief over a single model in his 30-plus-year career.

But GM chief executive, G. Richard Wagoner, says, "It's too early to call the Aztek a failure."
 

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Nix Sol said:
Man, people really hate Azteks don't they. I love mine, oh well.
I like them a lot. I don't know if maybe it's just the name that people don't like. The yellow or black without the body cladding is a great looking vehicle (and I don't mind saying it).

Maybe a bit more HP would have changed people's minds.

I also don't understand how no one rags on the Honda Element which is BUTT ugly.
 

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It's not polite to talk bad about guests but it's all right to be blunt with someone you've know all your life.

Personally, I don't like the look of gray plastic and am glad Ateks are fully painted and feel Elements would look a lot better if they followed suit.
 

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I think the Aztek, Element and Scion XB are all a design travesty. I can only assume that popular bias has made the Element and XB a success. I can't understand why anyone would buy any of them. In the Aztek's defence, I would say that it represents a great value. Dealers are probably willing to do anything to move them, and they do seem functional if you can stand the look. A perfect car for a blind person! :lol:

My appologies to the Aztek owners on the forum, I know from experience that by owning an oddball car and going against the grain, you actually get more out of the owner experience than most. You also probably care for your Aztek better than most BMW owners. You definately represent what America's all about, individualism and diversity. :patriot:
 

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Wow! I guess I sortof Hijacked this thread.
Personally, I think that the xB and the element are the ugliest cars ever. When I first got my Aztek all my friends made fun of it but I always told them that since I was driving I didn't ever really have to look at it. Not that I think it's ugly at all or anything. (I was just saying that to get them off of my back.) The funny thing though, is that whenever me and my buds go out we always take the 'tek. It's got tons of room, is a great ride, has a pretty good base stereo, and is something completely different. Now they're all sortof sad to see me selling it to get a Solstice!
As for caring for the car, passionate (or obsessive) would be an extreme understatement. This past weekend I spent a total of 8 hours jsut getting the exterior "show shined" Man is it pretty!!!
 

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Nix Sol said:
When I first got my Aztek all my friends made fun of it but I always told them that since I was driving I didn't ever really have to look at it.
It's kind of fun to have something that just pisses people off the moment they see it. I've actually got a collection of "ugly shirts" that I love to wear occasionally just to see people's reaction. They're just the brightest, most obnoxious color combinations and Hawaiian designs you can think of and when I walk into a room wearing one, it just seems to slap people in the face. But I'm wearing it ... so I don't have to look at it. Great fun indeed! :devil:
 

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AeroDave said:
I think the Aztek, Element and Scion XB are all a design travesty.
I do too, that's why I like them. They add an element of humor & variety to our nation's roadways. To each his own, I guess. Somebody isn't going to like what I drive, but I expect a little respect, and I'll give it back in return.

Can you imagine a world in which everyone drove a Solstice? Wouldn't that be boring? I'd go get an old Bronco with a rusted muffler just to be different! ;)
 

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WaitingForBoost said:
...Can you imagine a world in which everyone drove a Solstice? Wouldn't that be boring? I'd go get an old Bronco with a rusted muffler just to be different! ;)
:lol:
We'd ALL learn to live with a lot less stuff!!!!
 
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